sophia_sadek (sophia_sadek) wrote in talk_politics,
sophia_sadek
sophia_sadek
talk_politics

Monthly Topic: Guns vs. Butter‏

The topic of austerity and stimulus got me thinking back to my high school social studies lessons. One of the things we learned about was the economic trade-off between "guns and butter." During the second global conflict civilian consumption was drastically restricted with a strict rationing system. Citizens accepted this heavy-handed form of government control over the economy as a sacrifice that was essential to the war effort. (Of course, not all citizens were so acquiescent.) During the "police action" in Southeast Asia such sacrifices were not called for. According to our high school textbook, the failure to sacrifice domestic consumption led to an inflationary spiral.

When we think about austerity and stimulus it helps to consider who the austerity affects and how it does so. Cutting back on domestic programs in order to fund the military implies austerity for people and stimulus for arms merchants. Cutting back on military adventurism in order to fund domestic programs implies austerity for military industry and stimulus for human achievement. The military industry has given us civilian spin-offs such as recreational LSD use, MS-13 and movie theater terrorists. Civilian industry has given the military spin-offs such as satellite-based asset tracking and slick marketing techniques for packaging atrocities as life-saving necessities.

When a nation cuts back on public programs for the poorest citizens, the economy for police spending gets a shot in the arm. The rise in crime makes citizens fearful enough that they are willing to sacrifice their civil liberties in order to receive greater police protection. The American campaign to prevent communists from educating girls in Afghanistan created a climate of rampant crime which eventually resulted in the destruction of the World Trade towers. This crime wave provided a rationale to stimulate the military and police sectors of the economy to the detriment of human freedom and development. People who favor guns over butter have made out like bandits. Their motto may as well be, "Let them eat Parkay!"

I must confess that my own family participated in the military industrial complex. My father worked on the Manhattan Project instead of assaulting Japanese military strongholds in the islands of the Pacific. From that experience I learned to stay on the butter side of the economy. It does not make for a lucrative career in times of military stimulus, but it is a form of austerity that allows for more peaceful nights asleep.

What experience do you have in the economies of cow's milk byproducts and deadly devices?

Links: Wikipedia article on guns vs. butter. Reuben Oppenheimer on price and rationing boards. Muhammad Yousaf on Afghanistan.
Tags: economy, stimulus
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